David Rockwell’s Luxurious Pre-Fab Homes

Courtesy of Rockwell Group

Two weeks ago, David Rockwell took a step away from his usual work of interior and set design to present his foray into the prefab game – an adaptable 2,400 square-foot house called “Pinwheel.” His design aims to challenge two assumptions about prefabrication: one, affordability and luxury are mutually exclusive and two, pre-fab’s limited flexibility makes a cookie-cutter result inevitable. Rockwell says the project, a collaboration between himself and Fred Carl, founder of modular venture C3 Design, was inspired by his childhood in , where “outdoor space was part of the lifestyle.” Check out the plan and more designs after the break.

Disaster Relief Housing For The Next “Superstorm”

Exterior Of The Prefabricated Relief Housing Units. Image Courtesy of GOTHAMIST / JAKE DOBKIN

With hurricanes Sandy and Katrina etched into recent memory, the need for post-disaster relief housing is now. New York City and Garrison Architects have developed a modular, prefabricated housing system to relieve displaced citizens during the next “superstorm.” At only 40′ by 100′ long, they can squeeze into the city’s smallest corners – all while having kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and storage spaces. The prototype is on display in Brooklyn – but you can see the entire design at the A/N Blog.

Why It’s Time to Give Up on Prefab

Destruction of Pruit-Igoe. Image Courtesy of US Department of Housing and Urban Development

This article by Chris Knapp, the Director of Built-Environment Practiceoriginally appeared on Australian Review as “The End Of Prefabrication”. Knapp calls for the end of as a driver for design, pointing out its century-long failure to live up to its promise, as well as newer technology’s ability to “mass produce difference”.

Prefabrication – there is not another word in the current lexicon of architecture that more erroneously asserts positive change. For more than a century now, this industrial strategy of production applied to building has yielded both an unending source of optimism for architecture, and equally, a countless series of disappointments. This is a call for the end of prefabrication.

Read on after the break

Historic New York City House Seeks Permanent Home

Courtesy of Flickr User jenosale

After being relegated to storage facilities for much of its lifetime, proposals to relocate the Aluminaire House seem to be picking up steam. The project, which was the first all-metal house in the United States, originally stood as a symbol for architectural in a rapidly urbanizing .

AD Classics: Ramot Polin / Zvi Hecker

Images from the : The Object of Zionism, at the SAM (Swiss Architecture Museum, Basel, 2011). Curators: Zvi Efrat and Hubertus Adam

The Ramot Polin neighborhood is a housing project designed by the Polish-born Israeli architect Zvi Hecker, commissioned by the Israeli government in the euphoric aftermath of the Six Day War. The project, which resembles a beehive, is an avant-garde architectural experiment on morphology as well as construction. Since being constructed in the late 1970s, the structure has undergone extensive alteration by its tenants, provoking a debate regarding the capacity of expressive architecture to account for authentic human needs.

Construction Begins on NYC’s First Prefab Steel and Concrete Residential Development

© GLUCK+

has long been heralded as a possible way to infill New York’s vacant sites; however, it has only recently become a solid practical solution rather than an experimental concept. Riding the crest of the wave of new prefabricated housing is GLUCK+ (formerly Peter Gluck & Partners), in collaboration with developers Jeffrey Brown and Kimberly Frank. Together they have begun construction on one of ’s first prefabricated steel and concrete residential buildings.

Read more about this and New York’s recent wave of prefabricated buildings after the break…

Event: Pratt Explores the Importance of Cold War Era Pre-Fabricated Building Systems

Housing Prototype Systems; Courtesy of Pedro Alonso

Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture will present “ COOL digital,” an of 20 scaled prototypes of modernist, pre-fabricated, and globally-distributed Cold War era housing systems that were created using contemporary 3D printing technologies (opening reception 2/18 at 6:15, details below). The will investigate architectural modernism and its global influence and will connect with contemporary prototype pre-fabrication methods and digital research in housing and skyscraper design. A symposium that explores the technical, aesthetic, and political aspects of prototyping and pre-construction in architecture will be held tonight in conjunction with the exhibition.

Continue reading for more details…

The Downfalls of Prefab Design

Sky City is planned to be the world’s tallest skyscraper, constructed entirely through pre-fab.

Prefabricated  has come to be known as a fast, green, and cost-efficient way to create buildings. Although this technique has most prominently been used with small residential structures, it’s now taken a turn towards greater, larger projects. With towers and skyscrapers now in the works (and, in some cases, going up in as little as six days), pre-fab begs the question: is it really safe? Does quick production time lead to instability, making prefabricated buildings more likely to collapse?

Read more after the break.

VIDEO: Dwell Presents Jens Risom’s Island Home

If you’re at all immersed in the world, you already know the name of Danish-American furniture designer Jens Risom. And, if you know Jens Risom, you most certainly know the mid-century, house he designed and built on an isolated island 13 miles off the coast of New England.

If you don’t know it – now’s the time to get acquainted. The gorgeous summer home – which famously graced the pages of LIFE Magazine in 1968, has recently been featured by Dwell in a video.

The house, which has stood on Block Island for 45 years with relatively little renovation, despite the island’s notoriously powerful gales of wind, defies the stereotype that pre-fabricated buildings can’t be built to last (or beautifully designed).  Indeed, Risom only attempted the venture because of the “personal freedom” that pre-fabrication afforded him. As he explains: “Architecture, to me, is the most beautiful of the arts. But I watched my father [an architect] struggle with the challenges, what was to me an enormous drawback: The architect did not fully drive the end product. I always knew that I wanted to design, but only [if I could] create products over which I had total control.”

More on this extraordinary home and its designer, after the break…

World’s Tallest Skyscraper Back On Track To Be Built in 90 Days

Courtesy of Broad Group

Despite reports that construction firm Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a subsidiary of Broad Group, could not complete its 220-story Sky City tower in 90 days, the company’s senior VP Juliet Jiang has announced that the skyscraper “will go on as planned with the completion of five storeys a day.”

Thus, rather than in seven months, the world’s tallest tower (838 m; 2,750 ft) will be finished in three – topping out at the end of March 2013.

As we’ve discussed before here on ArchDaily, the tower could truly be revolutionary in China; Broad Group’s 95% modular technology, which is responsible for the incredible rate of construction, is also radically environmentally-friendly, earthquake-safe, and cost-effective. In fact, Sky City, designed by engineers who worked on the Burj Khalifa, will cost a tenth of that famous skyscraper (only $1,500 per square meter) – and take a twentieth of the time to build.

More info on the world’s tallest tower, after the break…

Beyond the “Made In China” Mentality: Why China’s Innovation Revolution Must Embrace Pre-Fab Architecture

Chinese construction company Broad Group’s rendering for Sky City One, soon to be the world’s tallest . (© Image: Broad Group via Gizmag)

When Wired correspondent Lauren Hilgers arrived to Broad Town, the headquarters of the Broad Sustainability Group in Changsha, China, she soon realized that this was not your typical workplace environment. At Broad Town, employees must be able to run 7.5 miles over the course of 2 days; recite company “policy” – covering everything from how to save energy to how to brush your teeth – at a moment’s notice; and refer to their boss as “my chairman.”

It may sound strict, but the workers at Broad are on a higher mission. The CEO and founder of the company, Zhang Yue, a.k.a the chairman, doesn’t just consider himself the head of a construction company, but of a “structural revolution.”

In a few years, Zhang has turned the world of skyscraper design on its head, pushing the technical and structural capabilities of pre-fabrication to its utmost (perhaps you’ve heard of the 30-story hotel he built in just 15 days). Not only do Broad’s techniques save time and money, they represent a potentially game-changing opportunity for China to maintain its unfathomable rate of growth in a way that’s both safe and sustainable.

But where does innovation enter in this revolution? China, for years an intellectual playground for Western architects, has become increasingly concerned with nurturing its own latent intellectual capital. However, if Broad’s paradigm takes hold (which, pragmatically-speaking, it should), what will that mean for architectural innovation? In a world of pre-fab structures, can architecture exist?

Update: SLEEPBOX / Arch Group

© Arch Group

Back in late 2009 Arch Group shared with us their proposal for an urban relaxation pod – SLEEPBOX. Their concept has been realized, with production of the 2.5×1.6m x 2.5-3m high unit high moving ahead. 

Japanese Precut Timber Construction


The traditional wooden construction of Japanese architecture is extremely detailed. Its exacting precision and craftsmanship has stood the test of time for centuries. However, the process of handcrafting each wooden beam with mortises and tenons is quite labor intensive, and with an aging workforce, automation of the production process is key to continuing the tradition.

The Rise of Prefab Design

Photo by SteveRapport - http://www.flickr.com/photos/23361730@N00/

Prefabricated design has been around since at least the 1940’s, but has lately seen resurgence in popularity. By assembling off-site, gives homebuyers attractive alternatives to the standard residential developments that have become commonplace. While prefabricated homes are not without their disadvantages, they are an interesting component of the post- bubble residential market. More on design after the break.

WikiHouse: Build Your Own House in 24 Hours

© .cc

Imagine taking your Google Sketchup creation for a house and having it milled out and assembled all within 24 hours.  WikiHouse, an Open Community project that puts you in the driver’s seat of and construction has recently unleashed the opportunity for anyone to realize their own vision of architecture.

Office Building and Logistic Center / modostudio

© Julien Lanoo

Architect: modostudio
Location: , Italy
Client: Giorgia & Johns Spa
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 13,760 sqm
Photographs: Julien Lanoo

TuboHotel / T3arc

Luis Gordoa

Architects: T3arc
Location: , Mexico
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 220 sqm
Photographs: Luis Gordoa

JustK House / Martenson and Nagel Theissen Architecture

© Brigida González

Architects: Martenson and Nagel Theissen Architecture
Location: , Germany
Client: Katrin Martenson and Dominik Bless-Martenson
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 278 sqm
Photographs: Brigida González